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The Forbidden Caverns of Archaia 5E $35.00
Average Rating:3.7 / 5
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The Forbidden Caverns of Archaia 5E
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The Forbidden Caverns of Archaia 5E
Publisher: Greg Gillespie
by Dave P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/09/2019 12:52:08

I'm going to begin by echoing Raj B. here: I'm roughly 70 pages into this 300+-page PDF and I'm so sick of the phrase "see Barrowmaze Complete" that I could scream. Even an entry in the back that says something like "Funeral Pyre Zombies -- see Barrowskin Complete or reskin Fire Snake from MMp265" would be an improvement. This was sold as a standalone product, not as a Barrowmaze supplement.

The maps are great, there are some good ideas (if not as fleshed out as I'd like), the writing is mostly clear. I'd like to see this designed better for use at the table-- inline stat blocks would be handy to avoid flipping back and forth and back and forth. Also, there's a tendency to give information a little late. Room 42 of one area says "A detachment of [enemies] normally guard this chamber (85%). If not, they may be training in #27-28." Think that might be worth mentioning a little earlier, say in #27 or #28? Me too.

If you're planning to buy one Greg Gillespie megadungeon, don't get this one. Buy Barrowmaze instead. It's not perfect, but it's good, much better than this.

If the publisher were to go through and make the other monster stats available as a free PDF or something, I'd probably rate this as 4 stars. As it is, I'll steal a few ideas/mechanics from this but I have no desire to run it for my players. When I'm paying $30ish for an adventure module, I expect that I'm paying for someone else to have done most of the work for me. That wasn't the case here.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Forbidden Caverns of Archaia 5E
Publisher: Greg Gillespie
by Raj B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/30/2018 09:21:04

Overall this product should appeal to fans of OSR megadungeons. Forbidden Caves of Archaia is pretty well known in OSR circles, so its only natural that it was eventually converted to 5E. I saw this campaign on Kickstarter and immediately backed it. Seemed like a no-brainer.

Now for the problem that led to knocking the rating down from 4 or 5 stars to 3 stars. The monster stat blocks are very, VERY incomplete. Dozens of unique monsters have no stats at all and the DM is just instructed to "see Barrowmaze Complete". In effect, you're required to purchase an additional $35 PDF just to properly use the one you just purchased.

A DM can of course substitute any monster that they wish, but they are still given no help in the form of a CR rating or any other info. Just a name like "Juju zombie" or "Gemstone golem". Not very useful. The added prep time from poring over every chapter and plugging in your own monsters is both time consuming and drains the product of the unique flavor that you paid for in the first place. The stats obviously exist somewhere and this was almost certainly a cost cutting measure designed to keep the book's page count down and affordablility up. That's fine. But here are some possible solutions.

-Provide a "Recommended Monster Replacement" table. Just list the unique Barrowmaze monsters and the author's recommendations for OGL or MM monsters replacements. This would require at most 2 additional pages -Provide the missing stat blocks as a free PDF here on DTRPG. It could be completely free or free just to verified purchasers of the full book. Kickstarter backer like myself would be out of luck in the later case, but it would make new purchases of the Forbidden Caves of Archaia worthwhile.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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